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Stephen Burks: Pushing Design Boundaries

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Stephen Burks continues to challenge the boundaries of design, pushing forward with his innovative creations that merge artistry and functionality. During the recent Salone de Mobile in Milan, Burks introduced a new addition to his Kida collection, created in partnership with Dedon. This new outdoor lounge chair complements the existing dining and hanging chairs, and according to an article in the New York Times, it stands out as the “first of its kind in the Dedon collection” with its fully wrapped structure that treats fiber as both surface texture and color against a lightweight frame.

Burks’ new outdoor lounge chair with Dedon exemplifies his ability to redefine traditional furniture design, positioning him at the forefront of Furniture Trends. The Chicago native’s influence extends internationally as he collaborates with artists and craftspeople both in the U.S. and abroad. His Brooklyn-based studio, Stephen Burks Man Made, has become a hub for innovation, partnering with renowned companies such as Cappellini, Missoni, and Roche Bobois. Yet, despite his numerous accomplishments, Burks remains unsatisfied with past achievements, always looking to push the boundaries of product development further.

In 2020, amidst the global pandemic, Burks observed a shift in how people invested in their living spaces. “We all lost ourselves and began to look for ways to explore. Everything began with Shelter in Place,” Burks said, referring to his first solo exhibition in over a decade. This period marked a turning point, inspiring him to take his expertise on the road, working across different U.S. regions to explore how design can transform communities.

Burks collaborates with craftspeople, designers, and students to synergize product, process, and innovation, facilitating important conversations about diversity, political divisions, and the art of creating. “We believe in trade, not aid,” he emphasizes. “We are looking to honor the people we work with as collaborators and to give them agency.” This philosophy underscores his commitment to authentic and respectful collaboration.

Stephen Burks

The intersection of creativity and commercial success remains a focus for Burks as he explores the boundaries of materials, design, and thought. However, it is not the driving force behind his process. Working alongside his partner and cultural director, Malika Leiper, Burks builds on the success of his Shelter in Place exhibition with new bodies of work: Spirit Houses at Volume Gallery and Ancestors at art gallery Friedman Benda. These thought-provoking forms support his professional exploration of collectible design while maintaining his commercial partnerships.

“For us, every project is different and unique,” Burks explains. “We are not looking to repeat something we’ve done. Instead, we always look for room to express our clients’ goals with our vision. It’s important for brands to push boundaries. We have the potential to create products with soul.” In a landscape where Furniture Trends continuously evolve, Burks’ work remains a testament to the power of innovative and thoughtful design.

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